Before I start I just want to make it clear I’m not moaning about what I do, I absolutely love it despite the ‘down sides’. I feel at the moment there are a lot of people starting up pet sitting and dog walking businesses not realising what it really entails and soon give up once they find out. Maybe this post will help those in 2 minds about it.
1. You are your own boss you can work whatever hours you like and take as much holiday as you want right?!
Wrong! Well technically correct but anyone who wants to be a successful dog walker needs to be flexible and above all reliable. Who is going to pay someone to walk their dogs while they’re at work every day if you are constantly taking days off? Your customers can’t always get home from work at short notice and they will need to find another dog walker to cover your days off. Obviously you have a right to time off and actually in my first year my customers were TELLING me to go on holiday ha ha but I don’t like to take days off if I can help it. I do now try to work a 6 day week rather than a 7 day week.
2. The owners are more trouble than the pets
Maybe I’ve just been lucky but all of my customers are as lovely as their pets! I’d even say some are now friends. That’s not to say I haven’t had some strange requests, I draw the line at bringing in washing and folding it away neatly, I am not a house keeper….
3. Picking up dog poo on a walk is the worst part of the job
I’m afraid it’s not! If you are squeamish this is not the career choice for you. You’re now asking yourself what could possibly be worse?! Believe me walking in to a house greeted by a suspicious smell to find a dog or cat has had diarrhoea and/or puked everywhere (usually on carpet) is far worse. People say to me ‘yeah but you’re not a cleaner’. But I am there to look after the wellbeing of the pet and I wouldn’t want them to be getting it all over them and treading it round the house so I do clean up as best as I can. To be fair this doesn’t happen very often.
4. Surely it’s just a lunch time job
While 11am-2pm is a very popular and busy time for a dog walker, not everyone works 9-5. Many of my customers work different shifts which can mean the middle of the day for them is anything from 3pm to 8pm. Some of my customers are elderly so can’t walk their dogs very far, so don’t necessarily need the dog walked at a specific time. Then there’s my feline friends, usually when their owners are on holiday I feed and let them in and out mornings and evenings so I can sometimes leave my house at 7am and get back late evening, it’s so varied every day. I’ve even done jobs at 10pm at night.
5. It must be lovely in the summer
It’s certainly nice to be outside rather than in an office when the suns out but walking in the sun and heat for hours usually ends in me being a sweaty mess, make up dripping down my face, sunburnt and dying of thirst (drinking lots of water is an issue when you’re doing hour long walks back to back!) Plus if it’s very hot it’s not always safe to walk the dogs for too long so you end up playing with them inside instead. Which leads me onto….
6. Winter must be the worst
I actually prefer the winter just because it’s easier to keep warm when power walking, wrapped up in a scarf, gloves and hat. I suppose the only downside is the mud and dirt so my car is constantly covered in muddy shoe prints. I do have fun trying to wipe muddy doggy feet though, who would have thought so many dogs don’t like being towel dried!? It usually ends in Dog 1 Towel 0.
7. It’s just walking what’s so difficult about that?
I think some people do have an image in their mind of you having lovely leisurely walks in the sunshine, birds tweeting, butterflies and waggy tails. The reality is I can have lovely walks like this, and then I go to my next job and get head butted by a Staffy….. I have to say some of my dogs are a dream to walk, they walk at a good speed, have a quick sniff, don’t pull on the lead, not bothered by food laying around and get on with other dogs. But many dogs can be challenging, nervous or aggressive towards other dogs. Some will pull like crazy, lunge towards other dogs, or you may have to avoid other dogs altogether. Some will suddenly take off like Mo Farrah when they see a squirrel, cat or just something they like the look of. This doesn’t always mean an unpleasant walk but does mean you have to be on full alert at all times, plus sore arms, back and shoulders are a daily struggle.
8. You must have loads of pets at home
Truth is I would if I could but I actually don’t have any. People are surprised by this but with my partner out at work all day and me being out at all hours, possibly from 7am until late evening, it wouldn’t be fair to have pets at home while I’m out looking after other peoples buddies. I would have to hire another pet sitter and dog walker for my own pets!
Don’t let this put you off if you love the idea of being a dog walker and pet sitter, there are lots and lots of pros, lovely and funny times and you’ll get really attached to all your buddies 🙂